In 1958, the Gallup Organization asked a random sample of Americans a question about what kind of man people wanted their daughters to marry — a Democrat or a Republican. The question read: If you had a daughter of marriageable age, would you prefer she marry a Democrat or a Republican, all other things being equal?
In the late 1950s, 18 percent of respondents said they would want their daughter to marry a Democrat, 10 percent a Republican, and the remainder, 72 percent, either didn’t answer or said they didn’t care.
I asked a representative sample of people a version of this question (that included “son or daughter”) in the week before the 2016 election and found changes that mimic the changes in the intensity of intraparty voting over these same years. In 2016, more people care about the party of their future in-law than cared in 1958, and there is more desire for same-party marriage than there was in the 1950s.
In 2016, 28 percent of respondents said they wanted their son or daughter to marry a Democrat and 27 percent a Republican, leaving only 45 percent to say they didn’t care.